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FAA on Friday announced it would delay the planned closure of 149 air traffic control towers until June 15 that were scheduled to be shut down starting Sunday. The agency is looking to give the airport communities additional time to adjust to the closures and decide whether they want to continue funding the towers themselves.
The delay was announced after several airports filed lawsuits to block FAA from closing their towers, alleging the decision is a violation of a federal law meant to ensure changes at airports do not impact safety.
In March, FAA released a list of 149 towers funded by FAA contractors that would be closed as a result of the sequestration budget cuts that reduced its 2013 fiscal year operating budget by $637 million. The majority of the planned closures are at small and medium-sized airports with fewer than 150,000 takeoffs and landings per year.
The extension until June 15 allows airports to select the option of continuing to operate certain towers as nonfederal contract towers. FAA estimates that the tower closures will save $30-40 million. More